Randy Weston: Ancient Future (2002)
Mutable Music, run by 1750 Arch owner Thomas Buckner, has been quietly resurrecting their treasures (Big Black and Roscoe Mitchell available now; ROVA and Galas among the sorely missed) on the new label. Rather than a straight reissue, here we have the luxury of an update of where Weston is now, via Ancient Future. His roots are still here, of course, but filtered through twenty more years of experience and intellect. The playing is slightly more abstract and internal, but not less communicative: the veins run deeper. Anyone familiar with Weston's playing would be hard put to fail a blindfold test. "Portrait of Oum Kalthoum", the great Egyptian singer, is a beautiful meditation on her work; there are no musical allusions to her style. "PCN", for Panama, Cuba, Nigeria is perhaps the richest piece: lots of dark notes, many but subtle rhythms. Before you realize it, a wickedly playful "It Don't Mean A Thing" strides over you as it in turn segues to "Body and Soul", taken nothing is static here for long in and out of 3/4 time. Much of the hour-long disc is presented as a suite, each piece commenting musically and historically on the rest.
Ancient Future/Blue is dark chocolate for the soul. [Note to the designers: don't glue a booklet to the left-hand side of a double digipak; it hurts the spine when you read it.]
This review first appeared in the September 2002 issue of All About Jazz: New York .
Personnel: Randy Weston - piano
Record Label: Mutable Music
Style: Modern Jazz